U.S. GDP contracts 4.8% during first quarter of 2020

The coronavirus related contraction is first in six years, worst since the Great Recession that ended in 2009

Updated: April 29, 2020 - 8:47am

The United States' gross domestic product (GDP) shrank at an annual rate of 4.8% during the first quarter of 2020, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

The contraction is the first in six years, and the worst since the Great Recession, which ended in 2009.

The new number is the result of businesses across the nation closing down temporarily or permanently, laying off or furloughing tens of millions of workers, and facing general economic uncertainty as the coronavirus pandemic continues to bulldoze the American economy.

The average U.S. household is spending less, uncertain of what the future holds. Some factories and stores are shuttered with no date for reopening in sight. Home sales have fallen drastically.

The Congressional Budget Office has put out an estimate that the GDP will continue to contract during the current quarter.

The GDP numbers for the April-June period could plunge by as much as a 40% annual rate, according to the CBO. That type of massive number would mark the worst quarter on record since 1947 when quarterly GDP figures were first compiled.

As some states begin to reopen local businesses at some capacity, economists remain hopeful that a swift and robust V-shaped economic recovery will take shape.

However, much remains unclear as uncertainty lingers surrounding the possibility of a second wave of infections that could force businesses to close again, in addition to the generally unpredictable mood of the American consumer in the wake of the virus. Some economists believe Americans will remain too cautious and fearful to come out en masse to stores, movie theaters and restaurants, which could further stall a recovery.

Both economists and administration officials expect a somewhat significant economic rebound during the third quarter.

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